How to Migrate Public Folders to Office 365 Groups Hassle-free?

Office 365 is a cloud-based package of services offered by Microsoft for communication and data management. It has a Group platform that lets users collaborate and share resources with one another; a feature related to public folders in Exchange. If you want to migrate all or some data from these folders to groups, we have a manual process right here for you. However, due to the complexity of manual process, it requires a lot of planning to avoid any kind of fatal mistakes during implementation. Therefore, in this article, we are also providing a simple and quick solution to migrate public folders to Office 365 groups.
But before that, we need to compare public folders with O365 groups to have a better understanding of why Groups are preferred over Public Folders.

Why migrate your Public Folders to Office 365 Groups?

To put it bluntly, public folders are old concept while O365 group is the latest trend. It can replace the old public folder altogether in almost all the cases. Let’s see some of them:

Email Collaboration: Groups provide a dedicated space for users to communicate and collaborate together via emails. It can also be set in such a way that people from outside the organization can also share information. On the other hand, mail-enabled public folders stores project related information to be viewed by only team members.

Documents Collaboration: Again, Groups have a dedicated space for which displays all files along with attachments from the Sharepoint team site. While in public folders, one must search for the files since they are not available in single view.

Shared Calendar: Shared calendars provided to every group which can be altered and updated by any member of the group. Public folders use scheduler or timetable for such task, but the shared calendar has more features in every aspect.

Permissions: Users, when assigned to a group gets immediate permissions. While you have to manually do this task for every user in public folders.

Accessibility on both mobile & web: Groups provides mobile access via Outlook mobile apps and has a richer set of features on web. While public folders are not available for mobile and have limited web functionality.

Other extra advantages: Office 365 suite is a whole package of applications. When a group is created, various extra services such as Sharepoint, planner, etc are also provided to the users. Public folders have no such concept.

Hence you can say that Office 365 Groups are quite convenient to work with. The feature-rich cloud environment provides a much safer and flexible platform to operate.

How to Batch Migrate Public Folders to Office 365 Groups

Microsoft does not provide any application for easy migration of your folders to O365 groups. So, a manual workaround for this task was discovered. You can either go for this long and tedious manual approach or use a simple tool to conveniently import public folder PST to Office 365 migration tool.

Manual way to Move your Public Folders to Cloud O365 Groups

Step 1: First of all, download all the migration scripts from Microsoft Reference Scripts. Save all these scripts on the system on which you wish to run Powershell

Step 2: Prepare for migration by checking some prerequisites for the process:
-> No orphan Public Folder mail objects should be present in Active Directory,
-> No duplicate Public Folder objects should be present in Active Directory,
-> SMTP email address of both Active Directory public folders and Exchange objects should match

Step 3: Generate CSV files

Step 4: Create a public folder mailbox on Office 365

Step 5: Generate downtime request

Step 6: Start the migration process

Step 7: Lock, finalize, test and unlock the public folder migration

Step 8: Remove public folder database from legacy Exchange server.

Note: For detailed instructions and prerequisite conditions to be met, please refer to Microsoft library.

After analyzing the detailed steps, one can easily say that these instructions are way too complex and confusing for any normal users. A piece of strong technical knowledge is a must to even understand this approach. Furthermore, there are a lot of conditions that must be met to even initiate the process. Plus the time factor along with the exact execution of this list of instructions with multiple steps is always a headache for any user.

Simplest Way to Migrate Public Folders to Office 365 Groups

So many shortcomings are associated with the manual approach that it is no longer relevant. The only solution to this problem is to export public folder as PST and then import this PST to Cloud O365 using a third-party solution. Office 365 Import with its simplicity and ease of function is the most relevant tool in this scenario. There is no need to perform long complicated steps anymore. No matter if you are accessing O365 with or without impersonation, the tool is capable to deliver perfect results in both the cases. The two-way step to move public folders to Office 365 groups is as follows:

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I. Export public folder as PST using MS Outlook

  • In MS Outlook, go to File >> Import/Export >> Export to a file >> Personal Folder File
  • Click Include Subfolders on the top level of public folders. Click Next
  • Select the .PST file format, and click Next. Name the file and set a password (if required)

II. Import public folder PST into O365

  • Step 1: Download, Install and launch Office 365 Import software on your machine.

Note: If you have impersonation rights, check the ‘Is Office 365 Admin’ to enter credentials and login into the account. In this case, you will have to validate each O365 profile individually. If not, directly move to step 2.

  • Step 2: Click on Add file(s) /  Folder button import public folder PST.
  • Step 3: Locate and select the public folder .pst file created earlier and click on Open button.

Note: You can also add multiple files stored in a particular folder by using Add folder option.

  • Step 4: The file(s) will be listed. Now, provide the credentials to be authenticated in this window.
  • Step 5: Now, you can choose to import specific data from the file as well as set filters for each mailbox items individually as per your requirements. Eg. Separate date filters for emails, calendars, and tasks.
  • Step 6: Finally, to migrate Public Folders to Office 365 Groups, click on Import button. An acknowledgment will appear once the process is complete. Click OK to confirm.

Note: The software also incorporates several other features such as Excluding Deleted and sent items, Include folders with Outlook data file attached and many more for user convenience. It also supports Incremental Import so as to let users perform the process at their pace.

Final Words

The discussed manual approach is way too complex, error-prone, and time-consuming. But by using the O365 Import tool, all these shortcomings can easily be overcome. Also, the tool is not limited to just migrate public folders to Office 365 groups. It provides complete PST data migration including emails, contacts, calendars and tasks to O365 online.

User Query

Q: Can I batch migrate Public Folder PST to Office 365 Groups?

A: Yes, using Add File or Folder option you can import multiple public folder PST files in Office 365 Groups.

Q: Which is the quickest method to transfer the public folder to Office 365?

A: Use an automated approach like Office 365 Importer. It takes only 5 steps to perform the process.
Step 1: Login to Office 365 account using Admin/User account.
Step 2: Click on Add File(s) / Folder to import bulk PST
Step 3: Choose the Category of data to Import to Office 365 Groups
Step 4: Select the Filter option for selective data migration
Step 5: Finally, click Import button to begin the process

Q: Is there any risk in using Microsoft Script for migration?

A: Yes, steps for migration procedure using this method may lead to error and data corruption. As the method is complex and requires high technical knowledge.

Q: What type of data can be migrated from the Public folder to Office 365 Groups?

A: You can transfer Emails, Calendars, Contacts, Tasks, Notes from the public folder to Office 365.